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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER              53
Chinese literature from becoming a mere collection of eulogies on the imperial virtues and a rehash of moral exhortations. All good Chinese literature, all Chinese literature that is worth while, that is readable, and that pleases the human mind and
soothes the human heart is essentially imbued with this Taoistic spirit. Taoism and Confucianism are the negative and positive poles of Chinese thought which make life possible in China.
The Chinese are by nature greater Taoists than they are by culture Confucianists. As a people, we are great enough to draw up an imperial code, based on the conception of essential justice, but we are also great enough to distrust lawyers and law courts. Ninety-five per cent of legal troubles are settled out of court. We are great enough to make elaborate rules of ceremony, but we are also great enough to treat them as part of the great joke of life, which explains the great feasting and merry-making at Chinese funerals. We are great enough to denounce vice, but we are also great enough not to be surprised or disturbed by it. We are great enough to start successive waves of revolutionsf but we are also great enough to compromise and go back to the previous patterns of government. We are great enough to elaborate a perfect system of official impeachment, and civil service, and traffic regulations, and library reading-room rules, but we are also great enough to break all systemss to ignore them, circumvent them, play with them, and become superior to them. We do not teach our young in the colleges a course of political science, showing how a government is supposed to be run, but we teach them by daily example how our municipal, provincial and central governments are actually run. We have no use for impracticable idealismj as we have no patience for doctrinaire theology. We do not teach our young to become like the sons of God, but we teach them to behave like sane, normal human beings. That is why I believe that the Chinese are essentially humanists and Christianity must fail in China, or it must be altered beyond recognition before it can be accepted. The only part of Christian teachings which will be truly accepted by the Chinese people is Christ*s injunction to be harmless as doves" but "wise as serpents." For these two virtues, dove-like gentle-